Think like an Entrepreneur, act as a Project Manager

How far can the notion of project lead us today? I asked myself this question in 2011 upon the release of my first book and since then, the tendency seems to support my vision at the time: a popularization of the practice (linked to the famous ”common sense”) and a specialization of the job for sensible applications.

In the field of entrepreneurship, the notion of project which often takes the denomination of “business projects” which emphasizes a particular cycle of life (pre-start-up, start-up, growth, maturity, transmission or cession) and especially a good number of management techniques in the domain. The question here is to know how to optimize or, if we want, to gain more insights in the meeting of the world of projects and the one of business. Thus, my vision has always been to manage a project like a business (temporary) and a business like a project (as a lifetime endeavour).

A classic project must be composed of a delicate equilibrium of key parameters (3, 6 etc.) which constrain and turn the building of deliverables into an opportunity for an ideal performance or series of regrets. In the business world, this performance translates in the survival or death of the economic structure. It seems to me with time that to lead your project to success, we must “think like an entrepreneur and act as a project manager”. This catchy formula hides two important aspects of the Attitude of the promoter (entrepreneur or manager) of a project.

On the one hand, thinking like an entrepreneur is, by definition, seeking to earn a profit for the business so that it becomes viable and durable. This part of the correct Attitude to have is the mindset that is to say the drive for our action or in this case the management. For a manager to identify the source of waste (mudas) in a cycle of project management is not a simple application of a Lean philosophy but must allow a better global performance of a project with a great likeliness of meeting the quality of deliverable. Even more than avoiding waste, the research of the maximization of the profit or the key variable (time, cost, scope etc.) must feed the intention and then the effort of the manager and be the guide in the strategic decisions starting at the draft of the plan of the project.

On the other hand, being the project manager is by definition applying a variety of proven techniques which guarantees a minimum viable result. This second part of the same correct Attitude is the behaviour to have: the force for our action or our management. This can be termed the “operation”. For an entrepreneur defining the scripts of product or services with a client, building a backlog and launching sprints for the release of minimum viable product or service is the first step in the universe of Agility. This will allow the entrepreneur to breakdown it’s work in phases or mastered cycles which will be invoiced to clients without losing control on the satisfaction of the client knowing that one minimum viable product or service can be subject to several iterations until reaching the full satisfaction or the budget that the client can afford still meeting the deliverable specifications. It is not necessary to be indefinitely lost in costly addons which are often not necessary since they are done just to impress the client. We seek, therefore, the quality “perceived” and “experienced” by the client relating to his/her need through adapting continuously to the financial and technological environment of the project.

In summary, you need to both mix good financial judgement and the follow up of the rules of the art of project management in order to be sure to get your cookie$$$…